Business as Unusual: workplace fundraising post lockdown

Business as unusual - Enthuse logo with illustrations of different people working in different ways - home-based, office-based etc

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The return of schools for a new academic year and the government continuing to lift Covid restrictions has seen companies kick start their plans for the return to the office for some employees. Charity activity in the workplace normally represents an important part of employee engagement programmes, as well as a key part of fundraising plans for causes. But this has been challenging and at times impossible over the last 18 months. 

Our Business as Unusual report shows that 58% of workers were displaced from their normal workplace last March – either through a switch to home working or being placed on furlough. This was on top of 7% who already worked from home meaning a total of two thirds of workers were physically away from workplaces. 

The research also shows the impact on different age groups. Gen Z and millennials bore the brunt of the changes, with 29% of 18-25 year olds and 26-35 year olds furloughed or made redundant. A further 34% of under 40s began working from home. For Gen X (40-54 year olds), there was a large-scale shift to home working with 43% of them making this move, while only 16% were furloughed or lost their jobs. 55-64 year olds were the least impacted by the change with 40% of them continuing at their normal workplace. This is significant as younger generations are the most engaged with charity fundraising as we will outline later on in this blog.

The return to the office

Our research indicates that a third of people do not have a sense of when they will be returning to an office, as they either do not know (8%) or it’s down to when their company tells them to (25%) and they are not clear on when that is. A further 1 in 12 won’t be returning to their normal place of work at all.

Something that is clearer for people though, is that they are unlikely to be returning to the office five days a week. In fact, just a quarter of people anticipate they will be back in the office every day of the week. 50% expect to return to the office three days a week or less or have a flexible arrangement.

This is an important consideration for charities thinking about how to re-engage with workplace fundraising. There will be a lot less people in the office every day to take part in activities, and with staggered working days for companies that take smaller office spaces, it will be harder to coordinate campaigns and appeals that run or launch on a particular day. It also means there will be much less opportunity for cash donations. 

The state of overall giving 

The good news for corporate fundraisers is that donors have continued to give with conviction. Looking back across the year, following the very early months of the pandemic there was a sustained and remarkably consistent boost in the number of people giving to charity. Only 59% of the public had donated at the start of the pandemic. But this levelled up three months later to just under 7 out of 10 people having donated and has stayed at the figure of 69% since October 2020.

In the last quarter, under 40s have again proven to be the most generous with 81% having given, whereas only 62% of over 40s have donated. This is worth bearing in mind when planning workplace fundraising. Harnessing the enthusiasm and likelihood to donate of younger age groups are important factors when creating workplace campaigns and appeals. 

There are also lessons to be learnt from behaviour during the pandemic. Virtual versions of the pub, games and fitness events have been morale boosters for companies throughout the last year. It will be important for these companies to be inclusive of those working from home as well as those in the office when they are doing cultural activities. Charities that make sure their campaigns have a virtual option as well as a physical one and offer ‘flexible fundraising’ option will be better placed with businesses looking to run inclusive activities. A few examples of how to do this could include having team or office based leaderboards to encourage competition; suggestions around companies matching fundraising to boost employee engagement and morale; and making sure donations are digital friendly and not cash reliant. 

How Enthuse can help

Over the last year, the public have shown their desire to consistently help charities with seven out of ten donating throughout the majority of the pandemic. This combined with the increased interest of workers, particularly the under 40s, in taking part in workplace fundraising provides an opportunity to build workplace and corporate fundraising campaigns that appeal to employees during the challenging period of the return to workplaces. 

But as well as the current challenges of mixing physical and virtual campaigns, there are other underlying issues that need to be tackled. For example, it can be very time consuming and nearly impossible to track and report the total amount raised across a business when the business is running campaigns for different charities. This problem can be exacerbated when different offices are running their own campaigns or even more complex when multiple offices are running multiple fundraising events for different charities.

This difficulty can undermine the opportunity to celebrate the fantastic fundraising efforts of the whole company and different teams or offices taking part. Enthuse has designed its corporate fundraising product with this in mind. It provides companies with the ability to centralise fundraising across their company with one hub profile page through which they can keep track of all the fundraising being done by offices, teams and individuals within their business. 

For more detail into workplace fundraising and the future of work you can download our full Business as Unusual report here.

Equally, to find out more about our corporate fundraising solutions: